Perseverance produces endurance it’s said. Practice makes perfect say’s another. Another, a cello teacher, says practice makes permanent. But he says this only when his student begins to practice bad habits in playing.
We all need practice to establish skill yet our culture of immediate self gratification denies the weightiness of practice somehow believing they can achieve great things without personal training. Working wood becomes multidimensional when I engage the wood with hand tools. The senses, each of them, engage with the synapses and nerve cells transmit that vital cognisance I need to understand the complexities and simplicities of my work. I still train my body for work. If I relax for a week and don’t work, my body softens, my mind disengages and the two combined make me sluggish. The legs carry me, stand me, brace me and push me as I move in my work, but my work demands most from my upper body. My lungs and chest, my heart beat, the breath I take and more respond to my sensing my work.
I don’t so much rely on my mind but my intuition. Woodworkers flatten soles of planes yet never flex them to true wood as they did in former decades. Training is to exercise intuition as much as it is to strain muscle and sinew and so both must work together in sensitivity one to the other sympathetically. Without sympathy art remains outside the craftsman’s work and muscle alone can never fully create art.
Training my upper body, my hands, arms, shoulders, neck and head is to line up the eye to the work to give direction to my energies and control my power. Strength and gentleness unite with one another to bring harmony and union. It’s my continued exercise, my willingness to train, that guarantees self control. This unison between parts both conscious and unconscious generates sensitivity and accuracy.